Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Do You Care? Act Like It!

From *ten years ago*!

Okay, I’m not an actor... I don’t even play one on TV. I have done some acting in the past - in high school it was the only creative class available (for some reason, they didn’t have creative writing class - just your standard English) - but I never really wanted to be an actor. Much of my time in acting class was either trying to see Janet Englebert in her underwear backstage, or trying to round up actors to be in one of my projects. Let me tell you - being the straight guy in an acting class gives you an advantage. I took exactly one semester of acting in Community College - to find a girlfriend and cast my short films. That worked out okay.

I have some friends who act, and my friend John directs stage plays in the Bay Area. So does my friend Dennis, who I met when I cast him in a short film I made about killer mice. I know a bunch of people in the Concord/Walnut Creek, CA area who act, and when I moved to LA I was also appearing every weekend at the Onstage Theater in Pleasant Hill, CA in a play called CHEATERS - I was a Televangelist on the TV. It was kind of fun, because I was on stage almost 400 miles away from where I was working on a script - you *can* be two places at once!


Since then, the only acting I do is a cameo in films I write. The Hitchcock thing. One summer I saw every single Hitchcock movie at the Telegraph Theater in Berkeley. The funny thing was - there was this group of people (together) who would just get up and leave after the Hitchcock cameo! They missed some great movies because they onky saw a few minutes of them.

So, I always write in a "featured extra" role with the intent of playing it. When they made TREACHEROUS, they shot it Mexico and didn’t pay for me to fly down... so you won’t see me in that movie. I’m also not in HARD EVIDENCE (shot in Canada). You’ll find me in the non-USA cuts of VICTIM OF DIRECTOR as the dead guy in the morgue that Pete Spellos is about to cut open - they cut me out of the USA version. That was a difficult role (dead guy) because I wrote all of this funny material for the Medical Examiner... then Pete knocked it out of the park with his delivery. I had to remain still (I was dead) while this actors was saying hysterical things a few inches away. I ruined a take when Pete took a wax pencil and - like an artist - trying to figure out the perfect place to make the incision, marking it with the pencil.

I’m also in VIRTUAL COMBAT as a homeless guy with a sign that says "Will Work For Credit" at the railroad yards. I’m in NIGHT HUNTER as the piss stained drunk who grabs the hero, looking for a handout, and almost gets him captured by the police. That’s actually my favorite role - I get a big juicy close up. I’m in INVISIBLE MOM (shot at the same time) as TEAMSTER #2. They "forgot" to call me for CRASH DIVE and BLACK THUNDER and CROOKED. I show up in CYBERZONE as one of the guys in the "pirate bar" and spent the day watching Brinke Stevens strip over and over again - not a bad day! For STEEL SHARKS I played the fattest whitest guy in the Iranian Army - and the director hated me and cut me out of the movie after keeping me up *all night* waiting for my scene. Sometimes I’m in the film, sometimes I’m not. It’s never in the contract, I just make a deal with the director. If the director doesn’t like me, I probably won’t be in the movie.


Well, my friends at the SoCal Film Group (I plug them in the new issue of Script Magazine) asked if I would do a cameo in a short film... and they put me in a role with almost no dialogue (they don’t know I’m a thespian) as Pizza Delivery Guy. So, I did half of my role a couple of weeks ago and finished it off yesterday. Though I think it all worked out, I was not ready for me close up. After having dinner with my friend Louis I planned on spending an hour in Starbucks reading over my script - which I hadn’t looked at for weeks... but one of the writer-directors of those horror movies from the Trilogy Of Terror entries was there and would not stop talking about his new project - so I showed up on set completely unprepared - the director’s nightmare. I read over my lines, did okay - except I kept forgetting some clever wording in one place. I eventually got one take right. Yeah, this from the guy who is bitching about Busey ignoring his dialogue in CROOKED.

But let me tell you about a couple of weeks ago - the short is a fake DVD behind the scenes extra... on what has got to be the worst movie of all time. So it’s interviews (yesterday) along with footage from the movie and out takes (shot a couple of weeks ago).

Now, if you live outside the USA you may think that shorts are a big thing... because they actually make them and show them in your country. Not here. No one ever sees shorts. They play in film festivals - then no one ever sees them again. Studios don’t fund them, producers don’t fund them, the government doesn’t fund them... Short films are made by someone cracking open their piggy bank and convincing people to work for free. There’s no profit, so there’s no pay. The *film* is the payment - and most people work on shorts in exchange for a copy of the short when it is finished. An actor might want it for their reel, same thing with the DP and director and... well, the craft services (snacks) were really good on this film, but I can’t see this short getting the craft services person any work. Hard to tell how good the food was when you watch the movie. But - this is a no pay gig. You make short film in the USA because you love making movies.

Which brings me to this actor a couple of weeks ago. I have almost no dialogue - nothing to memorize. This guy is one of the leads in the fake bad movie - and this is a scene from the movie. He has freakin’ pages of monologue. Okay - no pay... but this guy has it memorized. Not only does he have it memorized, he figures out physical things to do (business) while he’s doing the monologue that are... Genius. I mean - amazingly funny. He does the monologue - and we have to bite our tongues to stop from laughing - it’s an OSCAR worthy performance. Brilliant. Cut... let’s do it again. And he does a different version with just as much energy... and different really funny business! He does several takes - all at full force, all with really funny business. He’s doing amazing work, all for a copy of the short film.

I feel like a slacker for just memorizing my *line* and offering the director a couple of different ways I can say it.

There are people who don’t give their all when they are writing. You don’t want to be one of those people. You want to be the person who blows everyone away with your commitment, hard work, passion, creativity, and preparedness - even if you are just working for a copy of the danged short. You want to be the writers who goes the extra mile - even if there is nothing in it for you...

Because writing well is its own reward.

And people *do* notice.

- Bill


Unk said...

Yes they do...


Anonymous said...

Hey fellow bloggers,

Number 1 in this week's Box Office is a sports comedy directed by Will Speck and Josh Gordon.
"Blade of Glory" was released last week, on March 30. All the flash lights are on Chazz Michael Michaels, who is the star of the ice skating arena. His only competitor seems to be the former wonder kid, Jimmy MacElroy.

The two "sports heroes" meet each other face to face at the World Championships and their rivalry erupts into a big fight. Three years latter we find Michael skating, dressed as a clown or an evil wizard and drunk almost all the time and MacElroy working into a shoe store. In the end the two rivals join their forces and talent and they compete as the first skating pair in history of sports composed by two men.

Also released on March 30, "Meet the Robinsons" is a 3D animation fantasy directed by Stephen J. Anderson. The animation also known as "A Day with Wilbur Robinson" is a relaxing movie based on a science fiction story. A twelve-year-old, Lewis, meets Wilbur Robinson, a boy from the future, who takes him forward in the future by means of a time machine.

Traveling into the future, Lewis finds out the big secret of the Robinson family. Lewis is not an ordinary kid, instead of playing like most children of his age, he prefers reading and studying, having already a large number of inventions. His latest research was focused on creating a Memory Scanner device in order to recover his mother's thoughts when she gave him for adoption. Unfortunately, Bowler Hat Guy and his evil hat, Doris, are stealing Lewis' invention. Lewis discovers a new mysterious world with floating cities and manages to save the future and to help his future family.

The movie "300" lies on the 3rd place in this week's Box Office. Released on March 9, and directed by Zack Snyder with a $129,165,656 budget, the historical drama had a great impact on the audience. The filming location was Montreal, Canada and the movie is based on the legendary story of the Battle of Thermopylae, which took place in 480 B.C., when King Leonidas, his 300 Spartans and some other Greeks entered the war against the huge invading Persian army. The story is simple but intense and the film is great to watch and to listen to. Gerard Butler stars as King Leonidas, who runs an insignificant army from a numerical point of view. Rodrigo Santoro plays the Persian invasion leader, Xerxes.

The main actors were required to work out a lot for this movie, as the personages had to look strong, healthy, with sculpted bodies. The film special effects look great, the chromatics tend to impress more due to the sepia tones, or the violent red of the blood. Reviewers agree that "300" is a great movie based on a legendary moment and stylized with a lot of visual work. Taking into consideration the positive impact of the movie, perhaps "300" fans will get the chance in the future to play video games based on this movie.

Michael S.
For more new movie reviews and old movies like 100 Girls or Along Came Polly please visit my blog.

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